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Archive for May, 2008

Obama’s Exodus

The Obamas have resigned from Trinity United Church. There’s a list of reactions here. Peter Wehner:

Barack Obama’s resignation from Trinity United Church of Christ over, in part, “a cultural and a stylistic gap” raises additional doubts about him. The obvious question is what “cultural and stylistic gap” exists now that hasn’t existed during the last two decades, when Obama was a member of Trinity United and an intimate friend with its pastor, Jeremiah Wright Jr.? The answer, of course, is none. Trinity United and Jeremiah Wright are what they have always been; it is Obama — or more precisely, Obama’s political interests — that have changed.

It’s been just over two months since Obama’s Philadelphia speech on race — the one that was compared by the historian Garry Wills to Lincoln’s Cooper Union address. In that speech Obama famously said he could not more disown the Reverend Jeremiah Wright than he could disown the black community or his own grandmother and spoke about how Trinity United “embodies the black community in its entirely.”

Since that speech Wright has been tossed under the bus — and now, so has Trinity United….

What Obama did today may have been politically necessary. It was certainly politically expedient. And it is yet one more blow to Obama’s image as a different kind of politician. In fact, as we’ve learned over the last few months, Obama appears to be a Chicago politician through and through. When he perceived a threat to his self-interest, he cut his ties to first his pastor and then his church, both of which he had expressed familial love and fidelity. This whole episode is deeply unattractive, even as it is deeply revealing.

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Socialist Bumper Stickers

I see I’m not the only one creeped out by some Obama signs and bumper stickers. I hadn’t made the Che connection, but the poster style screams New Left socialist realism.

That reminds me: Have I mentioned the trilingual pun I heard back in tenth grade?

The New Left is both sinister and gauche.

I heard it from Richard Lodge, who meant it simply as a joke. I think it’s right on target.

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Feline Friday: Jewel

JewelBack in February, I wrote about Jackie, who was born in our house in 1995 after a graduate student found a pregnant stray cat at her apartment complex. This is her sister Jewel. Always a bit of a recluse, Jewel suffered some sort of trauma while we were on vacation a few years ago and our housesitter abandoned his duties and left town. We returned to find her hissing and spitting at anything that moved. We have no idea what happened. Extraordinarily suspicious of almost all other cats, she now stays in her own room, the library, where she has an occasional feline visitor but otherwise has the place to herself. She’s friendly to people she knows. But being in her own room means she gets less attention than she’d like.

UPDATE: Yes, those are books from “The Cat Who….” series behind her.

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Megan McArdle comments on that Wall Street Journal title and the accompanying article. It’s a phrase that McCain ought to be preparing for use in a debate. It’s probably better than the one I thought of: “Change—Out of YOUR Pocket!”

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Obama, Soros, ACORN…

Stanley Kurtz and Charles Johnson find some connections and explore their significance. Not to put too fine a pun on it, ACORN really is nutty, and Obama’s intimate connection with it deserves much more scrutiny than it’s been getting. Johnson also finds a Soros-McClellan connection. I think we’re starting to learn whose puppet Obama is.

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Five hundred fifty five years ago today, Constantinople fell to the invading Muslim armies, which would eventually overrun most of Eastern Europe and, in 1529, 1566, and 1683, threaten Vienna and the rest of Europe. My own ancestors (on my father’s side) were already under Muslim domination, where they would remain for almost five hundred years. Black Tuesday, “the last day of the world,” was also the final day of the Roman Empire, which survived in the East for almost a millennium past its collapse in the West.

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Mankiw on Free Trade

Greg Mankiw defends free trade against Robert Driskill’s attack. I’d add one more argument. Driskill claims that the benefits of free trade go to the few, the costs go to the many, and there’s no redistribution of the benefits to compensate them. Not only is there redistribution by way of the progressive tax system, as Mankiw notes, but the benefits of free trade extend much more widely than Driskill allows. Consider trade with Japan on electronics or automobiles. There’s no question that it cost many American jobs. But the benefits have extended to everyone who buys electronics or automobiles in the form of higher quality goods for lower prices.

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Maybe the Archbishop of Canterbury was right. The Church of England sees an Islamic future—and sees the government as the chief cause.

If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.

The decline of Christianity is significant and, in my view, lamentable, but what really strikes me is the weakness of the secular worldview that replaced it. This is not a case of Islam replacing Christianity; it’s a case of secularism replacing Christianity and then almost immediately submitting to and, indeed, facilitating Islam.

This progress has been enthusiastically assisted by this government in particular with its hard-line multi-cultural dogma and willingness to concede to virtually every demand made by Muslims. Perhaps most importantly the government has chosen to allow hard-liners to act as representing all Muslims, and more liberal Muslims have almost completely failed to produce any leadership voices to compete, leading many Britons to wonder if there are indeed many liberal Muslims at all, surely a mistake.

I have no doubt that there are liberal Muslims, but there are reasons why they don’t “produce any leadership voices”: radical hands will quickly silence those voices. How many liberal Muslims are among those immigrating to the United Kingdom and other European countries, moreover, is doubtful.

At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland’s aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.

This, of course, is simply incredible. How can there be any controversy whatever about banning honor killings? Why aren’t officers who violate their civil duty sacked and prosecuted to the full extent of the law?

…The point is that Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast, at the same time as demography is showing very high birthrates. Charles Taylor’s new and classic work on the Secular Age charts the rise of the secular mindset and what he calls the ‘excarnation’ of Christianity as it is levered out of state policy and structures. Christianity is now regarded as bad news, the liberal elite’s attack developed in the 1960s took root in the educationalist empire, and to some extent even in areas of the church.

This is true in Europe, at least, and many of our own liberal elite would like it to be true in the United States as well. Britain offers an important warning about such a course of action. Some may dream that pushing Christianity to the sidelines will leave the playing field to Reason. Perhaps, but only temporarily. I’m reminded of the joke: The meek will inherit the earth—but they won’t keep it for very long. It’s not that Reason is meek. It’s that, in the name of tolerance and fairness, it will invite a group of bullies onto the field—bullies who will crush it even while it makes excuses for them.

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Wretchard quotes Mark Steyn, speaking in Vancouver before he goes on trial:

What we’re up against is not primarily defined by what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those are still essentially military campaigns and we’re good at those. … it might be truer to say that this is a Cold Civil War – by which I mean a war within the west. The real war is a domestic war: the key terrain is not the Sunni Triangle but every major city within the western world. …

Even if there were no battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, even if no one was flying planes into tall buildings in New York, even if no one were blowing up trains and buses and nightclubs in Madrid and London and Bali, even without all that, we would still be in danger of losing this thing – without a shot being fired.

Wretchard himself remarks:

But what “kinda guy” is modern Western multiculturalism, that proud creation of “progressive” thought? It is, in the last analysis, the principal ally of every fascist unicultural force there is. Steyn soon warms to the point that what is at issue isn’t what Islam is; because Islam will be what it will be. What is at issue in the hate speech proceedings is what the West wants to be.

In the comments, he continues:

Islam and Marxism are examples of “greedy ideas”; ideas whose main purpose is to reproduce themselves, in part by eliminating all competition until they literally rule the world.

In contrast, the notion of diversity as a good springs precisely from idea that even ideas which are “unfit to survive” deserve preservation on the grounds that they contribute something even if we do not know what that something is.

The phenomenon of a “multicultural society” coming to the rescue of a “unicultural tyranny” is the outcome of a greedy idea coming into an environment where it’s very greediness — its will to power — is protected.

I am not persuaded that the current multicultural leadership is truly committed to diversity. Rather, diversity is used as a cover under which a “greedy idea” can be advanced. The problem with totalitarian notions is that by their nature they are all or nothing affairs. As one Englishman put it, “they are either at your feet or at your throat”.

The key problem is how to face down greedy ideas like Marxism and Islam without becoming a species of totalitarianism ourselves. I am not convinced this is possible, at least in the militant stage. Totalitarian ideas must be beaten down until they are discredited. They are unsafe to leave in virulent condition.

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Safer

John Hinderaker compiles the record of coordinated terror attacks against the United States and Americans abroad, conclusing that we are indeed safer now than we used to be.

On the stump, Barack Obama usually concludes his comments on Iraq by saying, “and it hasn’t made us safer.” It is an article of faith on the left that nothing the Bush administration has done has enhanced our security, and, on the contrary, its various alleged blunders have only contributed to the number of jihadists who want to attack us.

Empirically, however, it seems beyond dispute that something has made us safer since 2001. Over the course of the Bush administration, successful attacks on the United States and its interests overseas have dwindled to virtually nothing….

There are a number of possible reasons why our government’s actions after September 11 may have made us safer. Overthrowing the Taliban and depriving al Qaeda of its training grounds in Afghanistan certainly impaired the effectiveness of that organization. Waterboarding three top al Qaeda leaders for a minute or so apiece may have given us the vital information we needed to head off plots in progress and to kill or apprehend three-quarters of al Qaeda’s leadership. The National Security Agency’s eavesdropping on international terrorist communications may have allowed us to identify and penetrate cells here in the U.S., as well as to identify and kill terrorists overseas. We may have penetrated al Qaeda’s communications network, perhaps through the mysterious Naeem Noor Khan, whose laptop may have been the 21st century equivalent of the Enigma machine. Al Qaeda’s announcement that Iraq is the central front in its war against the West, and its call for jihadis to find their way to Iraq to fight American troops, may have distracted the terrorists from attacks on the United States. The fact that al Qaeda loyalists gathered in Iraq, where they have been decimated by American and Iraqi troops, may have crippled their ability to launch attacks elsewhere. The conduct of al Qaeda in Iraq, which revealed that it is an organization of sociopaths, not freedom fighters, may have destroyed its credibility in the Islamic world. The Bush administration’s skillful diplomacy may have convinced other nations to take stronger actions against their own domestic terrorists. (This certainly happened in Saudi Arabia, for whatever reason.) Our intelligence agencies may have gotten their act together after decades of failure. The Department of Homeland Security, despite its moments of obvious lameness, may not be as useless as many of us had thought.

No doubt there are officials inside the Bush administration who could better allocate credit among these, and probably other, explanations of our success in preventing terrorist attacks. But based on the clear historical record, it is obvious that the Bush administration has done something since 2001 that has dramatically improved our security against such attacks. To fail to recognize this, and to rail against the Bush administration’s security policies as failures or worse, is to sow the seeds of greatly increased susceptibility to terrorist attack in the next administration.

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